Residents of Otjindjerese (Orokapare), on the outskirts of Opuwo, are dismayed and frustrated by the illegal land occupation by wealthy and powerful individuals who are busy fencing-off communal land to set up lodges, farming projects and residential units.
Speaking to this paper this week, Orokapare resident, Jaavi Mumbuu, said community members are concerned over the land allocation processes practised by certain community members who sell off large tracts of land for personal gain.
Orokapare is situated about 10 kilometres south-east of Kunene regional capital, Opuwo.
“The community is concerned about the unprocedural manner in which the land board allocates land for settlement purposes, which is not in line with Land Reform Act,” said Mumbuu.
Mumbuu claimed that a certain “corrupt” resident of Orokapare is suspected to be receiving “kick-backs” to ensure that dubious land sales go through.
“People apply for settlement in our area but we are not aware of the procedures that they go through to acquire because there are certain individuals who sell land illegally.
“People come to him (the accused) with huge amounts of money and in return he gives them application forms claiming that he has been authorized by the Mupya Traditional Council to allocate land at Orokapare,” charged Mumbuu.
Unanisa Mupya has been accused of parcelling out land, however, efforts to contact him for comment were fruitless this week.
Moreover, The Patriot has it on good authority that Chief Itandua Mupya of the Mupya Traditional Council has on many occasions denied, in writing, that he has “granted” permission to Unanisa Mupya to allocate land to settlers at Orokapare thus making his actions “unprocedural”.
Among those alleged to have received land dubiously is businessman and wealthy French national Jacky Rouset, who has fenced off a chunk of communal land for residential and recreational purposes without the approval of the community.
Rouset allegedly acquired land at Orokapare claiming that it would be “inheritance” for his children, who are Namibians, one day when he returns to his native country, France. He has since started to construct a hotel and continued fencing off more land despite numerous calls by the community for him to stop. When the residents questioned his actions, Rouset referred them to his lawyer.
Similarly, Iyambo Iyambo, a wealthy businessman in Opuwo, also owns land at Orakopare, which he allegedly bought from Rouset.
However, Rouset maintains he followed all legal procedures prior to acquiring land and denies selling land saying he only sold his “property”, which he built with his own money.
“First, you are not allowed to sell land because it belongs to government, what I sold is my property that I built on that land. That land does not belong to me, it belongs to government. I just sold my property, which I built myself with loan money that I applied for and which I have to pay back to my bank,” Rouset claims.
Rouset added that the land on which he built was applied for legally through Chief Mupya.
“I applied legally for that land from Chief Mupya. After my request he said, ‘okay, let’s go and see which land I am able to give to you’.
“Nothing was stolen, I applied legally, paid fees legally, advertised it legally and after two weeks on the board, the land was transferred to me and people only complained afterwards,” notes Rouset.
Rouset noted that the land that was allocated to him was for residential and business purposes and his applications were never objected to by the community.
Moreover, Rouset’s wife, Monica Rouset is another individual who also acquired land on which she built a hotel (Hotel Le Manior).
When questions were put to her on the manner in which she got the land, she denied any wrongdoing.
However, sources said the application letter for land on which the Rousets built their hotel was rejected by the Vita Thom Traditional Authority but they proceeded to develop “illegally”.
The sources further alleged that those implicated in “land grabbing” are politically well-connected and calls by the community to the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) to intervene have fallen on deaf ears.
As a result, without the intervention of NamPol and the Land Board the community remains powerless in stopping the illegal fencing of communal land.
Due to the happenings at Orokapare, on 31 May 2016, a Preliminary Tribunal, which was chaired by Kishi Shahumu, was dispatched by the land reform ministry to interrogate the matter.
However, the community of Orokapare was not satisfied by the findings of the tribunal, saying that the judgment was “unfair, unreasonable and unacceptable”.
According to Mumbuu, some members who make up the Land Board and the Tribunal have close “ties” with those who accused of grabbing land.
“The report was deliberately formulated in such a manner that the minister would nullify it, as it included things that were not true, and removed things that were true.
“The report compiled by the tribunal was fake, as it did not correspond with the concerns raised during the meeting,” Mumbuu charged.
Subsequently, Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma, nullified the concerns raised by the people of Orokapare.
When The Patriot approached Nujoma for comment this week, he declined to comment.